It's time for part two of Paris Unconventional, PetrolBlog's alternative look at the Paris Motor Show 2012.
In this update you'll find cakes, a Boxx, a Wally, chat up lines and a Duster. So if nothing else, it's eclectic. What's more, there's not even a slight hint of a supercar, although you may find a small mention of the ultimate super car, the Citroën C6. You see what I did there?
I'll get my coat.
Best place to find Wally: Wallys Car
I've never engaged in a game of Where's Wally?, or for readers across the pond, Where's Waldo?. But I think I've stumbled across the world's greatest cheat. It turns out that Wally is quite the car fan, even taking his own stand at the Paris Motor Show. It would appear that Wally likes nothing more than cruising the streets in his open top recreational vehicle, trying desperately hard to avoid lawyers from JEEP. And crashing.
Best understanding of target market: Audi
Ah, modern Audi. Successful, aspirational, cutting edge, forward thinking and Germanic. And most probably glued to within two inches of your rear bumper, with the trademarked retina-burning daytime running lights filling your rear view mirror. Vorsprung durch Headache.
But hats off to the team at Audi. They've clearly recognised the appeal of bright lights and therefore chose to launch the new Audi S3 in gleaming ball of light. Could someone pass the Nurofen please?
Best retro police car: Renault 5
I've said it before, but so often at these shows, it's worth moving away from the major manufacturers to find some hidden gems. Like this Renault 5 police car for example. You can just imagine it hurtling through the streets of Paris, blue light flashing. I loved its originality, right down to the period Renault Elf sticker in the rear window. C'est magnifique.
Car I most wanted to drive home: BMW M135i xDrive
I've been reading all about the rear-wheel drive M135i and it presents a rather compelling package. At 316bhp, it comes with only 19 less horses than the 1M Coupé and just about anyone I've spoken to who has driven it says it's little short of brilliant. I really, really want a drive in it.
BMW chose Paris to unveil the xDrive version, the all-wheel drive edition that's designed to take the fight to the Audi S3 Sportback. It's 75kg heavier than the rear-wheel drive version, but its standard 8-speed automatic ‘box means that it's more fuel efficient and emits less of the nasty stuff. Sadly BMW isn't planning to launching it in the UK, so we'll have to make do with the proper-wheel drive version. Just need to get myself a go in one now.
French porn in the car park: Renault Vel Satis and Citroën C6
Must be time for the C6 to make an appearance. I thought I'd throw in a little bonus by adding a Vel Satis too. With a double act as good as this, why even venture inside show? This particular Vel Satis was under guard for the entire two days I was there, leading me to believe that it was either owned by a very important chap, or the guy stood next to it just couldn't bear to be apart from it.
Best treats: Tartelette Citron
I'd never heard of a McCafé before I went to Paris, although it doesn't take a genius to guess that it's part of the McDonald's empire. Turns out that McCafé is nearly 20 years old, originally launching in Australia in 1993. Fancy that.
There was a McCafé situated in the media centre and it was incredibly well run and efficient. But best of all, everything was FREE! So there is such a thing as a free lunch, just so long as your lunch consists of cakes, pastries, coffee and smoothies. Plus the best lemon tarts, ever.
Nicole's favourite: Renault Clio estate
Inevitably, there was lots of interest in the fourth generation Renault Clio. Not only was this Renault's home show, but it was also one of most visually impressive stands at the show. There must have been over 20 Clios on display, including this rather fetching estate model.
It has 430 litres of boot space, 130 more than the standard Clio and apparently the rear seats will fold down to create a record breaking load area. Nicole will be pleased.
But Papa will be less pleased as the Clio estate isn't going to be sold in the UK. Which is madness, as it's arguably better looking than the already striking Clio hatchback and should be quite a practical little car. A missed opportunity perhaps?
I can't help thinking what a Renaultsport Clio estate would be like. The ultimate sleeper anyone?
Best traffic light-cum-desktop PC-cum-Monkey Bike: BOXX
“Designed as a primary transportation device or an accessory to your car”, says the sales literature. To me it looks like the result of an experiment involving a traffic light, a desktop PC and a Monkey Bike. And I want one.
I'll freely admit to knowing nothing about BOXX before I went to Paris, but now I really fancy one as a PetrolBlog long termer. It's essentially a one-metre long electric vehicle, capable of travelling 40 miles from a four-hour charge. At 55kg it's a shade lighter than my AX GT, plus it has a 58:42 weight distribution. But best of all? You can fit an optional ‘Cold Weather Package’, which from what I can make out is a heated seat. I'm thinking a BOXX hat, scarf and gloves might be a good idea too.
I'd also like to award BOXX with a prize for the most beautifully simplistic and basic stand at the entire show. Genius.
Worst chat up line: Mazda
These chaps clearly fancied their chances with the girls on the Mazda stand. So after a look around the rather lovely Mazda 6, they wandered over to the unsuspecting models. It was rather like watching an episode of Take Me Out unfold in front of me. Not that I know anything about that particular TV show.
Their opening line? “So ladies, which do you prefer, the saloon or the station wagon?” At which point, one girl swivelled her chair to face the other way, another girl started sniggering and the final girl was left to make sense of the term ‘station wagon’. It was an unfortunate and uncomfortable exchange. He would have been better off opening with “get your coat love, you've pulled”.
PetrolBlog show star: Dacia Duster
The Dacia Duster will launch in the UK at £8,995. Okay, so you'll need to fork out an extra couple of grand for a four-wheel drive version, but it still means the Duster is the cheapest 4x4 SUV you can buy, by some considerable margin.
There will be three trim levels available in the UK, namely Access, Ambiance and Laureate, with a choice of a 1.6 petrol engine or a 1.5 dCi diesel lump. Both will be familiar to UK buyers as they've been seen in Renault cars for many years. Despite the attraction of a £10,995 4x4, Renault UK expects most people to go for the entry-level front-wheel drive model. A car that's perfect for the age of austerity?
Admittedly, the interior on the Duster would be best described as often cheap, sometimes nasty, but none of this matters. It makes no attempt to hide its poverty-spec origins and is unashamedly basic and fuss-free. Of all the cars I saw in Paris, its the Duster I'm most excited about. A PetrolBlog hero in the making? Here's hoping.
That's it for part two of Paris Unconventional. If you haven't checked out part one, you can do so here. If not, stay tuned for the third and final part coming soon.